This year marks the 20th commemoration of George Ryga's death in 1987, as well as the 40th anniversary of the premiere of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. The Ecstasy of Rita Joe was the first play in English to be presented in the National Arts Centre Theatre in Ottawa in 1969. For several years afterwards it shook the nation. Chief Dan George wrote in the preface of the first publication, "this play carries a message all Canada should hear."
After dress one Rita Joe actress commented, "I needed to understand situations. I've led a pretty sheltered life and this project took me on a journey of understanding the many First Nation issues. I thought it could never happen to me or in my community. I know it is and if we don't stop it now it'll go on forever. It's not about coming to a play for entertainment - it's a way of seeing other realities." The student next to her responded. "I'm reminded of my Grandmother. She was Metis and a rape victim. My Mom says the guy received a light sentence."
Thank you for coming and supporting. To share with you is our honour.
"People who are forgotten are not forgetting. To overlook them is a dangerous delusion."
- George Ryga
"If the very old will remember, the very young will listen." - Chief Dan George in My Heart Soars.
- See: Theater
:: note :: ... process has a long tortured saga ... three years ago the then administration team deemed an adapted high school project of the Canadian classic inappropriate to perform ... despite a concentrated effort the already in progress project was suspended ... attempts to collaborate with First Nation partner educational institutions largely met with indifference ... a new administrative team provides unbending support and this coming week the community schools have responded by sending over 500 elementary school children to witness two matinees ... thanks to all especially to the spirit of resistance & the struggle for cultural justice that informed the faith of George Ryga ... in his honour and honouring all the marginalized we dedicate our work ... wishing all involved students strength of spirit ...